States Begin to Accumulate Legislation Protecting Pets from Domestic Violence

Illinois became the fifth state since 2006 to enact laws protecting pets from domestic violence; California is considering a similar measure.

Posted: August 30, 2007 5 a.m. EDT

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Illinois became the latest state to pass legislation that will protect domestic violence victim's pets
More states enact laws to protect domestic violence victims’ beloved pets.
When Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich singed House Bill 9 into law this month, the Land of Lincoln became the latest state to implement laws and join the growing political tide that includes pets in domestic violence legislation.

Studies show that approximately 25 to 40 percent of domestic violence victims do not leave their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets or livestock, according to Jill Buckley, senior director of Legislative Services Mediation Training at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). In addition, 71 percent of pet owning women in shelters reported a pet had been threatened, injured or killed by their abuser, Buckley said.

“If the abuser is unable to vent his or her anger and rage at the human victim, he or she may very likely target the victim’s beloved pet,” said Buckley, explaining why these laws are needed. “Protective orders help victims of abuse to leave volatile domestic situations knowing that their beloved pets will be safe.”

In 2006, Maine was the first state to implement pet protection legislation. Vermont, New York and Connecticut have since followed suit, making Illinois the fifth state to have this type of legislation on the books; the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2008. The new Illinois law allows judges to include pets in domestic violence protection orders.

In California, a pet protection bill passed in the Senate and State Assembly this week (on Aug. 27) and is now on its way to the Governor’s office. California’s bill is very similar to the Illinois law and would amend the California current Family Code to include pets in protection orders.  

“[These laws] send a message that animals in cases of domestic violence are important and valued members of a family who require protections from the courts,” Buckley said. “It’s important that the courts consider violence against a pet as a serious issue. Allowing judges to issue protective orders for animals shows that the courts are beginning to understand this nexus.”

--Heidi Hatch, Associate News Editor for

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States Begin to Accumulate Legislation Protecting Pets from Domestic Violence

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Reader Comments

Meko Mann    Atlanta, GA

8/30/2007 5:13:51 PM

I hope that every single state should pass the bill to protect domestic pets. They are so innocence, all they want is love, peace and great companion. Therefore, they should be protected. I am from Georgia and I simply vote to our current governor, Sonny Purdue just for one reason only inspite of his bad publicity, he implented domestic pet must be save during disaster. He got my vote just that!

Sheryl    Casa Grande, AZ

8/30/2007 2:15:01 PM

A very important piece of legislation that will save lives, both pet and human.

Louise    Phoenix, AZ

8/30/2007 1:02:37 PM

Yes, animals are very often victims of domestic violence. In my state, Arizona, there was a news about an abusive boyfriend who put his girlfriend's
chihuahua in the microwave and tried to cook it. I don't remember whether or not the dog was rescued.

It's about time animals were legally protected from these scumbags. However there remains one HUGE obstacle: most domestic violence shelters do not allow animals. So what does a person do with their beloved fur babies when they escape the abuser but have no place to house their pets?

Donna    Kenosha, WI

8/30/2007 11:14:30 AM

This should already be a law in every state. Of course the abuser is going to lash out against the pet. I hope these penalties are on top of those for animal cruelty, because this is a different type of situation.

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